Appeal for volunteers to help local families

January 30 2017

PARENTS and grandparents are needed for a new training course run by family-support charity Home Start Bristol, writes Jackie Novels.

.

PARENTS  and grandparents are needed for a new training course run by family-support charity Home Start Bristol, writes Jackie Novels.

It supports struggling families by assigning them a weekly visit from a volunteer, and is looking to train a new group of volunteers from April thanks to a £373,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund awarded in December.

The nine-week course runs from 10am-2pm at Ilminster Avenue children’s centre in Knowle on Thursdays from April 27 2017, is free to attend, and leads to a qualification.

After completing the course, attendees will be added to the charity’s existing bank of more than 80 volunteers matched with families across Bristol and South Gloucestershire to provide practical and emotional support.

Since the Southmead-based charity launched 30 years ago, it has helped thousands of local families where a parent or child has a physical or mental health aissue, those facing bereavement or relationship breakdown, and families dealing with multiple births. Parents are usually referred to Home Start by health visitors, GPs, and other health and social care professionals.

Once trained, volunteers commit to a two- to three-hour visit to a family each week, plus volunteer support meetings, for at least a year. The charity covers the cost of travel.

Volunteer work can include support on outings such as to the supermarket or park, helping around the house, looking after children or simply being someone to listen.

Bristol mother Charlotte said support from Home Start Bristol was invaluable to her family.

She said: “My world crashed when I fell pregnant with twins just two months after giving birth to my baby son, who was born with disabilities.

“From the moment I met my volunteer, I knew she was perfect for us. I had someone to talk to and my son bonded with her right away.She gave me chance to relax and focus on the twins.”

Former volunteer Rachel found that the experience led to other opportunities including a job as a family support worker and being accepted on to a foundation degree course.

She said: “After seeing a close friend go through postnatal depression I felt I wanted to help other mums.The course exceeded my expectations. It wasn’t always easy but the support was, and still is, fantastic.”

Home Start’s spokesperson said that all their volunteers are parents so they understand the demands of family life.

She said: “When you volunteer for Home Start Bristol, you’ll be a lifeline for a family, helping them get back on their feet and develop the skills they need to cope in the future.”

To apply for the course visit www.homestartbristol.org.uk or call 0117 950 1170.